Honour at home for Graham

A special ceremony was held outside a charity fundraiser’s front door to award him his MBE.

Graham Curtis, who has spent several decades raising money for local charities, received the prestigious honour from Dorset Lord Lieutenant Angus Campbell.

Graham had been due to attend the Palace for this ceremony in May, but it was postponed due to the pandemic.

In a short ceremony at the front of his house, Graham received the medal and the citation regarding the award.

Dorset Echo:

Graham Curtis receiving his MBE from Dorset Lord Lieutenant Angus Campbell

Over the years Graham has raised money for Dorchester Disabled Club buses and worked with the Rotary Club.

It was over 10 years ago that Graham concocted the idea of the Dorchester Rotary Club Christmas Draw, whereby the Rotary Club would seek the cash prizes from local sponsors, pay for the printing of the draw tickets and carry out the administrative functions of running the draw. Local charitable organisations, large and small, are invited to take part and sell the tickets, benefiting from the entire sales proceeds for themselves, most years with a bonus payment added. This straightforward idea dreamt up by Graham provided thousands of pounds over the years for many clubs and institutions. With the demise of the Dorchester Rotary Club, the Casterbridge Rotary Club has taken up the baton and continues to run the Draw – a fitting legacy to Graham.

Dorset Echo:

Graham Curtis, MBE

The ceremony was witnessed by Graham’s family and many friends who took advantage of the fine weather to attend and were able to socially distance and view the proceedings.

The Lord Lieutenant was accompanied by Cadet Sergeant Ellen Hubbard from Thomas Hardye School Combined Cadet Force.

Would you like to spread the word about your fundraising for a worthy cause? Let us help you publicise your efforts by filling out our simple Charity Champions Q&A form and submit pictures here

Help save the ancient home of beautiful barn owls

A wildlife friendly farming charity needs help to keep its oldest and most beloved residents from becoming homeless.

Just weeks after moving into its showcase Dorset farm, the UK wildlife friendly farming charity, the Countryside Restoration Trust, is facing a desperate race against time to rescue a family of barn owls.

A new £30,000 roof needs to be literally put over their heads before the onset of winter if the family of barn owls which have bred and nested for over 20 years at Bere Marsh Farm in Shillingstone, near Blandford Forum, are to be saved from being forced out by the elements.
Manager Elaine Spencer White said: “Bere Marsh Farm without its barn owls would be unthinkable. It is essential we rescue them from their plight. We need to do everything we can to make sure that they remain safe because they are the iconic symbols of this wildlife farm.”

Ever since they settled at Bere Marsh, the owls’ home has been in the roof of a 100-year-old barn sited amidst the meadows and fields of the 92-acre farm.

Dorset Echo:

A barn owl in flight at Bere Marsh Farm Picture: Alan Wicks

The iconic owls, a key indicator species of a healthy eco environment, are regularly spotted by passing families, hikers, naturalists and cyclists and have become a much-loved feature of the surrounding idyllic countryside.

The Trust is hoping that this will prove an effective factor in rapidly raising the necessary £30,000 to replace rotten roof timbers and re-tile the 100-year-old barn in the short period this Autumn between the owls’ completion of the rearing of their current chicks and the start of a new breeding cycle with the onset of winter.

CRT Fundraising Manager, Hayley Neal said: “Barn owls are the pinnacle of the British Countryside and the centrepiece of Bere Marsh Farm.

“All the local walks and the North Dorset Trailway run through the farm which means everyone gets to see them at some time. They are beautiful birds and are a huge attraction in the area.

“We want to ensure that their home is safe and secure for them for many years into the future and hope that everyone will join us in raising the money to give them the new roof and security they need if they are to remain at Bere Marsh Farm.’

Barn owls, one of our most beautiful birds of prey, are regularly active in daylight, particularly on long summer evenings when they need to make frequent hunting forays across farmland and meadows to feed their voracious chicks. This ensures regular sightings and their presence in a locality means habitats and food chains are robust and thriving.

Originally, Barn Owls nested in the roofs of old barns and hollow trees – hence their name. However, recent trends of modernising and converting barns into rural homes have severely reduced their natural habitats and now up to 85 per cent of today’s birds live in specially erected nest boxes.

This makes the Barn Owl Barn at Bere Marsh Farm even more important to save and restore as it shows the iconic species in its traditional, natural setting.

It is expected that the work to the Barn Owl Barn will take approximately two weeks to complete. It has been scheduled to take place in early October once this year’s chicks have left the nest and before the owls re-start their nesting and breeding cycle in early winter.

To help save the Barn Owl Barn, go to the website countrysiderestorationtrust.com/

Tree planting charity's plea

A SMALL international reforestation charity is calling employers to join forces and provide employment for 30 youngsters. 

The Word Forest Organisation, which is based at St Michael's Business Centre in Lyme Regis, wants Lyme companies to take part in the Government's Kickstart Scheme, which creates new six month job placements for young people who are currently on Universal Credit and at risk of long-term unemployment.

The charity is on a mission to mitigate climate chaos by planting trees in the tropics where they grow up to 10 times faster than anywhere else on the planet.

Dorset Echo:

The Word Forest charity is calling upon employers to help it create 30 job placements for youngsters

CEO Tracey West said: "The workload has gone through the roof and our resources are stretched to capacity and our funding is currently supporting 1,500 people from the tree planting communities we work with, helping them keep starvation at bay."

Tracey said that with the Kickstart scheme employers applying for less than 30, must go through a representative of a group of employers who can submit an application on your behalf, using other employers to create 30 or more job placements in one application.

She added: "Come on all you employers of Lyme Regis and the surrounding area, can we make this happen together? Can we find a way to help at least 30 youngsters in our town who desperately need our help, guidance and patience to teach and support them as they learn. 
"We can offer two placements right now and if they're able to help us increase our income, we'll take more in the future with a view to making them staff. That's 28 left to find. Are you in? I've made an online form for local employers to get in touch and express their interest to have a Zoom to discuss it."

If you are a west Dorset employer and wish to join the WordForest in the Kickstart scheme and offer employment to young people, email Tracey at tracey@wordforest.org